Mark Driscoll Is Not Your Pastor

PreachingAn excellent article by Nick Nye, a pastor of a local church in Columbus, Ohio:

Mark Driscoll Is Not Your Pastor

Decapitation and starvation are ravaging though Iraq today. As I have followed the news and prayed for those trapped in the Iraq mountains, I have noticed the other big news feed. Pastor Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church has been removed from Acts 29.

I (as well as Veritas Church) have served with Acts 29 in some capacity from 2006-2012 and have a deep love for the network. We have planted, funded, coached and partnered with many Acts 29 churches and will continue to pray for their decision regarding Mark Driscoll. With Acts 29’s decision, the long history of blogs, confessions and calls to repentance have poured forth and are being reposted by people all over the world.

Maybe, these reposts are an inner-craving for justice or simply a case of celebrity Christian gossip. Whatever the motivation, I want to remind those of you not a part of Mars Hill, Mark Driscoll is not your pastor.

Here is what I mean…

Let us not project accusations against Mark Driscoll onto your local pastor. Because Driscoll is accused of his message conflicting with his character doesn’t mean your pastor is doing the same. I imagine many Christians reading these blogs, maybe even learning of Mark Driscoll for the first time are becoming suspicious that their pastor is on the same path. Seeds of doubt get planted that their pastor has deep ambitions to become mega and toss them out of the bus when they aren’t needed. These seeds could rise to unfounded accusations and projections that crippled the pastors voice in shepherding their church with true humility and Christ-like ambition.

There is little doubt that in your pastors heart of hearts he struggles with thoughts of being a big deal but nearly all of the pastors I know desperately reject those thoughts and want Jesus to be known and them to be forgotten. What we are seeing in our news feed ought to push us to praying for our church leaders. Despite fallen pastors, Jesus gives the church pastors (Ephesians 4:11-16). Your pastor is not Mark Driscoll, Noah (drunkenness and incest), David (sexual affair and murder), or Peter (denier of Jesus) but a fallen human in need of a savior, who is Jesus Christ.

Remember:
Jesus Christ is the apostle who plants a church (Hebrews 3.1).
Jesus is the senior pastor who leads the church (1 Peter 5.4).
Jesus is the head of the church (Colossians 1.4; 2.10, 19).
Jesus is the chief cornerstone of the church (Ephesians 2:20).
Jesus builds a church (Matthew 16.18).
Jesus even shuts a church down for becoming faithless and/or fruitless (Revelation 2.5).

Let us pray for Mark- a broken man and pastor like me, and let us rejoice that Jesus have given local pastors to help us all grow in Christ-likeness.

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Shepherding With Jesus

“Shepherding helps you stay close to Jesus.” Seems like an obvious conclusion, but how often is it actually put into practice?  How often does a shepherd of souls rely on their own wit, assumptions, history, and opinions rather than on the Savior of souls, the Chief Shepherd Himself?  Given enough time and people, and even the most hard-headed and self-confident shepherd will realize that they need Jesus.

Darrin Patrick’s section entitled “Shepherding Helps You Stay Close to Jesus” in Church Planter: The Man, The Message, The Mission succinctly lays out the logic behind relying on Jesus when shepherding people.  He does an excellent job of contrasting the pastor who locks himself into the safety of the pulpit with the pastor who engages himself with the flock entrusted to his care by Christ.

There is something about dealing with the enormity of people’s sin that necessitates staying very, very close to God. In preaching it is easy to hide a lack of spiritual connection with God through good preparation and raw ability. But the unpredictability and sheer emotional content of pastoral work confronts you with your own necessity for a Savior. In preaching you can prepare what you will say ahead of time. But in pastoral work there is a lot of room for insecurity and anxiety as you wrestle with the questions, objections, and arguments of your people in real time. It is terrifying! It drives you to dependence on God (pp 83-84).

Shepherding: Preparing for Living

Shepherding people requires time, energy, and money.  It can seem like a drain. Yet the benefits to the faithful shepherd outweigh the cost.  Darrin Patrick lays out some of the pluses in his book Church Planter: The Man, The Message, The Mission. The first item he lists is: Shepherding Prepare the Pastor for Living.

When you deal with the sin of others, you become more aware of your own sin. When you shepherd the stubborn, you see your own stubbornness.  When you shepherd the selfish, you see your own selfishness. When you shepherd the broken, you inevitably see your own brokenness.  Positively, when you see others obey, you want to obey. when you see others use their gifts effectively, you want to use your gifts effectively.  This should come as no surprise to us, since it is the Holy Spirit who reveals sin, empowers obedience, and imparts gifts. Both the Greek and Hebrew words for spirit mean “air” or “breath.”  The English word spirit comes from the Latin spiritus, which also means “air” or “breath.” This is where we get words like respiratory (breathing) and expire (no more breathing). It is also where we get the word inspire. It’s as if when the Spirit is at work in those whom we counsel, we pastors are, by the same Spirit, inspired to repent, believe, and obey with the best gifts we have (pp 82-83).

The Pastor’s Wife: Supportive But Unimpressed

Regardless the pastor’s temperament and the type of church he serves, most of us would agree that every church will have a wide spectrum of affection for their pastor. Every church to some degree has church members who view their pastor with rose-colored glasses, while others barely tolerate their existence and stay at the church despite him. Naturally, pastors often seek affirmation and encouragement by surrounding themselves with those who think they are the greatest preacher, most compassionate counselor, and strongest leader, while avoiding those who have less enduring thoughts of them.

This has led to what I think is a good, helpful, and healthy role for our wives to play in our lives as pastors while facing such a wide variety of affection to sift through among our people. A pastor’s wife should always be . . .

Supportive, but unimpressed.

Supportive: A pastor’s greatest asset isn’t a loyal elder or faithful deacon. It is a wife who knows him better than anyone, knows his struggles, knows his faults, knows his inadequacies, and knows the sins that most easily entangle him, yet has this unshakable support, love, affirmation and care for him.  It is a wife with an unwavering faith in God and support of her husband, that sustains them both through the most painful conflicts, the greatest betrayals, and allows the hardest church situations to be manageable.

But unimpressed: Though the unwavering support of a wife is of great value to a pastor and is essential in surviving the struggles of ministry, one of the worst roles for a pastor’s wife to play for her husband is to view him and his ministry with rose-colored glasses. The blind spots in a pastor’s life and ministry are most clearly and carefully observed by his intuitive ”supportive, but unimpressed” wife. A pastor’s wife that is impressed with her husband will not help him see the areas of pride and self-deceit in his heart that show up in conversations at home. A pastor’s wife impressed with her husband’s preaching will not objectively listen to him preach for the purpose to help him grow as a preacher. A pastor’s wife impressed with her husband’s gifts for ministry will be tempted to overlook those consistent criticisms that come from credible people in the church.

The reason I know what an invaluable gift it is to have a wife serve a pastor in this way is because I have a precious wife who is tremendously supportive and incredibly unimpressed with me. Because she has found this balance well, she knows when to comfort me when I am legitimately discouraged and push back when I sulk. She affirms my faithfulness to preach God’s Word, but doesn’t think I am the greatest preacher in the history of the world (probably not even top 10!). When my first book was published and people asked with a bubbly excitement, “You must be excited, but I can’t imagine how your wife feels. What does she say?” I found the most accurate response being, “She is very supportive, but unimpressed.”

Dear brothers and fellow pastors, pray your wife finds this balance. Open yourself up to her in such a way that allows her the freedom to play this role. It is for our good and growth that we cherish the gift of a clear, consistent, supportive, yet unimpressed evaluation of our ministry. There is no one better to play that role than the woman you have given your life to, lives with you in your darkest hour of discouragement, sleeps next to you every night, places herself under your care and authority, and sacrifices as much as you do for the sake of serving Christ in that local church.

Posted by Brian Croft on The Gospel Coalition.

If you are a pastor or a pastor’s wife, what are your thoughts?  Your impressions?  Your considerations in this area?

A Wife’s Support

R.C. Sproul has made a major impact in the current evangelical Christian world as a pastor and teacher.  In a recent interview he was asked how his wife has impacted his ministry.  Sproul’s response was full of humor and appreciation to the woman who has labored alongside of him as his wife for fifty years of marriage.

I recommend watching this video (click the image for the link) to all those who currently or will be serving the Lord as husband and wife – whether the husband is a pastor in the pulpit or they are both involved in serving Christ in addition to working.  In whatever function that I will be serving Christ in the future, I look forward to ministering with my soon-to-be-wife (June 2010) in a way that lives forth an effective and biblical pattern.  It is my hope that my marriage and the marriages of all those who have been under my ministry can inspire others, just as the Sproul family has helped many people around the globe.

Being a Husband, Father, & Pastor

While I am not a husband (until June 12th, 2010) or a father (until sometime after marriage), I am in full-time ministry operating as a pastor.  Looking ahead to the near future I have come to think more about how to be a proper husband, father and pastor all at the same time.  I have seen some good examples in my life as well as some bad examples.

I came across a link on facebook to the Resurgence.com that had an excellent article on this subject.  It laid out three great points worth noting:

1. The church can get another pastor, but your kids can’t get another dad.
2. The church can get another pastor, but your wife only has one husband—and she needs a good one.
3. A day off is not just a good idea. It is essential.

I highly suggest that not only pastors & their wives read the article Lead Your Family Well, but all those with a desire to serve the Lord – those in “full-time ministry”, those who work 40 hours in the world plus serve the Lord, and those who are raising families at home plus serve the Lord.